Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sean. Sean Wonders, “Who was Chopin?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sean!

If you’ve been WONDERing with us for a while, you might already know what a child prodigy is. You could probably even name a few! Mozart or Beethoven may come to mind. Today’s Wonder of the Day is about another musician who was talented from a very young age. Who are we talking about? Chopin, of course!

Frederic Chopin was born on March 1, 1810, near Warsaw, Poland. His mother started teaching him to play piano when he was very young. As his talent grew, the family hired a musician named Wojciech Zywny to teach him.

However, Chopin soon surpassed his teacher. Before long, it became obvious that Chopin was a child prodigy. He published his first composition when he was seven years old. By age eight, he was in high demand as a live performer.

In 1826, Chopin entered the Warsaw Conservatory of Music, where he studied under Joseph Elsner. Three years later, he performed two concerts in Vienna, Austria. From there, his reputation as a great pianist spread far and wide. 

As demand for his music grew, Chopin traveled throughout much of Europe. He continued to perform in Austria, Poland, and Germany. However, Chopin didn’t enjoy playing at concerts. When he moved to Paris, France, in 1832, he found himself in demand as a teacher and composer. He stayed in Paris, where he lived for most of his remaining years.

Chopin wrote his most famous pieces in the 1840s. This included such works as the Sonata in B Minor, the Opus 55 Nocturnes, and the Opus 56 Mazurkas. However, Chopin’s health also suffered during this time. He survived tuberculosis in 1839 but struggled with illness for the rest of his life.

Many of Chopin’s masterpieces were written during his summers spent in Nohant, France. He traveled there during warm months with the writer Aurore Dudevant (George Sand), with whom he had a long relationship. The city’s warm climate improved Chopin’s health.

In 1848, Chopin took a long tour of England and Scotland. There, he kept a busy schedule of performances and social engagements. The lack of rest poorly affected Chopin’s health, as did the region’s wet, chilly climate. He played his last concert for Polish refugees in London on November 16, 1848.

When Chopin returned to Paris, he was quite sick. Unable to do much other than rest, his work suffered over the next year. Finally, Chopin passed away on October 17, 1849. He was 39 years old.

Today, Chopin is remembered as one of the greatest pianists and composers of all time. What other musicians would you add to that list? Are you a child prodigy yourself? If not, it’s never too late! Pick up an instrument and start practicing. Who knows what could happen!

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1

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